Twenty people stood by and watched as a gang launched a ferocious attack on a teenage asylum seeker at a bus stop in south London, eyewitnesses have reported.

The 17-year-old Kurdish Iranian victim, who was with two friends before the attack, is in a critical condition following the assault in Shrublands Avenue, Croydon on Friday night (31 March) at 11.40pm.

Reports said the attackers approached him and asked where he came from. When he replied that he was seeking asylum, they chased him down the street and punched and kicked him to the ground. Some 10 people were said to be involved while a further 20 reportedly stood by and watched.

A local resident who witnessed the attack told BBC News: "There was a massive group coming up from The Goat pub. You couldn't see who was hitting who. There was one person, the one who ended up in hospital, he was getting absolutely beaten up.

"There was a group of roughly 10 people kicking and punching him and the rest, another 10 or 20, were all just around watching."

The source explained that bystanders were unable to intervene until the group dispersed.

"People that were there, witnesses, because they couldn't do anything against a group of 30 people, they had to wait until they moved off and that's when they managed to help him. That's eventually when the ambulance and police (arrived), and that was it."

The teenager reportedly suffered a fractured skull and a blood clot on his brain. He is receiving treatment at a south London hospital where he remains in a "serious but stable" condition. His friends suffered minor injuries in the attack.

The shocking incident sparked outrage in the community.

Local leaders condemn the attack while London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "Hate crime has no place in London, Britain or anywhere else.

"Our communities will not be divided by those who seek to sow hate. And we will always take a zero-tolerance approach to hate crimes of any type. Anyone who witnesses a hate crime should report it to the police immediately."

Director of advocacy at the Refugee Council, Dr Lisa Doyle, said: "We hope the perpetrators of this appalling attack are swiftly brought to justice and we wish the victim a full and speedy recovery."

Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell described the attackers as "scum" and said he hoped that the perpetrators would feel the full force of the law.

"This is a cowardly and despicable attack," he said. "It appears that this young boy that sought sanctuary in this country has been set upon by a whole group of people. And I hope that we find the people responsible and that they will face the full force of our criminal justice system."

Culturally diverse

Chief Supt Jeff Boothe said: "A number of bystanders and eyewitnesses tried to intervene and say to the attackers that 'enough is enough'. Hate crime is something which we understand can be very, very divisive. Croydon is culturally diverse and we need to continue to celebrate that.

"We are appealing to all decent people from whatever background they come from to help us identify the individuals that are involved in this isolated attack."

Police are treating the incident as a hate crime. Six people have been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

Any witnesses are urged to call police on 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.